Court Of Appeal Upholds Post Layoff Assignments At Long Beach Community College

In Long Beach Council of Classified Employees, Local 6108 v. Long Beach Community College District (Filed 6/19/18), the District laid off 37 classified employees and reduced the work hours for 79 other classified employees in July 2012 due to a significant reduction in state funding by approximately $10 million. The District also laid off faculty and management employees and reduced its course offerings.

After the layoffs, the District rehired some of the laid-off classified employees as temporary workers and assigned additional temporary work to classified employees whose hours had been reduced. The District considered temporary employees to be “limited-term” employees pursuant to Education Code section 88105. The temporary employees substituted for employees who were absent, filled vacancies while the District went through the recruitment process, and addressed other temporary needs of the District. The District also continued to hire part-time student workers to take on various low-level assignments.

The Long Beach Council of Classified Employees (LBCCE/AFT) sued the Long Beach Community College District claiming the District had a ministerial duty to assign classified service work only to regular classified employees and violated that duty by reassigning duties previously performed by classified employees to temporary employees and student workers outside of the classified service. The Union also argued that Education Code sections 88105 and 88106 did not authorize the hiring of former classified employees as temporary workers, and that the District had a ministerial duty under section 88076, subdivision (b), not to reassign the work of classified employees to student workers.

The superior court denied LBCCE/AFT’s petition for a writ of mandate and LBCCE/AFT appealed.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the superior court’s ruling in favor of the District. The Court of Appeal concluded that the District properly rehired all eligible classified employees. The appellate court rejected the Union’s claim that all classified employees were entitled to return to their permanent regular status. Instead the District, per the merit system provisions in the Education Code, could properly rehire classified employees in the classifications of temporary employees, such as limited term employees, provisional employees, as well as in addition to rehiring employees in their previous permanent status. Numerous examples were cited by the appellate court with respect to employees who were properly hired in these various classifications.

The appellate court also rejected the Union’s arguments against utilizing any student workers following layoff.

The court found that while the District may not employ student workers in a manner that results in the displacement of classified employees or impairs existing contracts for services, nowhere in the Education Code does it provide that the District may not assign work ordinarily handled by classified employees to employees who are exempt from classification. The appellate court concluded that the prohibition against employing student workers in a manner that results in displacing classified employees does not impose a ministerial duty not to assign classified service work to student workers. The court also found that the Union failed to meet its burden to show that student workers, by assuming classified work, displaced any classified employees, whether current or prior employees who were laid off in 2012.

You can view the full opinion at https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/B275840.PDF

 

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